Top
Get science ideas & lessons right in your inbox!

Teaching Photosynthesis for Middle School

The middle school standards for science want students to understand that photosynthesis is the beginning of the flow of energy through the food chain.

NGSS MS-LS1-6. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Utah SEEd
8.3.1 
Plan and conduct an investigation and use the evidence to construct an explanation of how photosynthetic organisms use energy to transform matter. Emphasize molecular and energy transformations during photosynthesis.
8.3.3 
Ask questions to obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how changes to an ecosystem affect the stability of cycling matter and the flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. Emphasize describing the cycling of matter and flow of energy through the carbon cycle.


Students need to first understand the basics of how photosynthesis works.  Some of the chemistry and specifics will be delved into more deeply when students are in high school.

Students in middle school should understand that:
  • photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts in the leaf
  • Light energy is absorbed by chlorophyll, a green substance found in chloroplasts in some plant cells and algae
    • Absorbed light energy is used to convert carbon dioxide (from the air) and water (from the soil) into a sugar called glucose
    • Oxygen is released as a by-product
    • Photosynthesis is the single most important chemical process on the earth.
    • Almost all plants needs the sun in order to survive.
    • Plants produce oxygen during this process and utilize carbon dioxide.
    • All people and animals need oxygen to survive.
    • photosynthesis takes place in the chloroplasts in the leaf
    I think this is a great opportunity for students to practice some science skills:
    • Setting up fair tests
    • arguing from evidence
    • supporting claims with evidence
    • critical thinking
    • making a model to explain thinking
    Once students understand the basics, the emphasis should be on how energy moves through the food chain starting with the sun and moving into plants and then up the food chain as it is consumed.




    FREE Carrying Capacity Game

    Leave a Reply

    Start Here

    I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!

     
    Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit

    Tina S

    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
    5
    2016-05-03T18:05:39-06:00

    Tina S

    I am so impressed with this unit which manages to be distance learning and hands-on at the same time.  Really well thought out and engaging activities that allow students to practice each of the eight Science and Engineering Practices.  Really no prep for me!   Science and Engineering Practices Distance Education Unit
    The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!

     
    Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2

    Richard S

    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
    5
    2016-05-03T18:07:52-06:00

    Richard S

    The elephant article was excellent but I also thought the lab on dissecting a flower was broken down so easily, even telling me where to get inexpensive flowers!  This resource helped me teach this challenging standard in an engaging way.  Worth every penny!   Structure and Function NGSS 4-LS1-1 and 4-LS1-2
    As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.

     
    Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4

    Sharon M

    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
    5
    2016-05-03T18:24:44-06:00

    Sharon M

    As always, Lynda provides perfect alignment with the standards.   Age of the Earth and Geologic Time Scale NGSS MS ESS1-4
    Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.

     
    Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning

    Expedition Fourth

    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
    2020-11-03T20:44:55-07:00

    Expedition Fourth

    Thank you so much for creating this resource! It is such a fun and engaging activity for my students, especially during distance learning.   Honey Bee Digital Escape Distance Learning
    My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.

     
    Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer

    Heidi J

    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams
    2020-11-03T20:45:49-07:00

    Heidi J

    My students loved this unit. I was able to present different elements of it throughout the month. It is hard to find interesting non-fictional, age-appropriate text for my students that they will enjoy. This was a great unit that aligned well for my students who have very different goals within the same group.   Compare and Contrast Two Texts on Reindeer
    5
    3
    Teaching Science with Lynda R. Williams